ULI Triangle News

The Booming Market for Boomer Housing

ULI Members gathered at the Cypress of Raleigh Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) on April 13th to learn more about the growing markets for senior housing options—from age-restricted to skilled nursing care.  Joe Whitehouse, Founder of Creative Urban Environments, moderated with the following panelists:

  • David Ammons, owner and Principal of Retirement Living Associates, manager of several retirement communities including Springmoor Life Care Retirement Community in Raleigh
  • Bob Anderson, Pulte Group – Raleigh Division, developer of the Del Webb 55+ active-living communities
  • David Ratchford, President & CEO of Spectrum Consultants, marketing and management consultants for than 200 retirement communities

Joe kicked off the program sharing statistics on the growth of the age-restricted/senior housing market in the U.S., North Carolina and the Triangle.  Key take-aways included:

  • Adults older than 65 are growing as a share of the U.S. population and expected to make up 20% of the total population by 2035, an increase from approximately 13% today.
  • The largest demand for housing in the next 15 years is projected to be for those 65 and older.
  • Independent and Assisted Living Units are being built at a faster pace than Nursing and Memory Care units.
  • Senior housing returns outpace all other property types.
  • Wake County’s population is growing at twice the rate as North Carolina as a whole, and the Triangle is expected to have more 60+ year-olds than those 0 – 17 by 2027.

The panelists then shared their business models and outlooks for the coming boomers-as-seniors market as they start to move into retirement communities.

26144959340_ff887df89f_h 25812972274_07c25e9d92_hBob Anderson purchases land for Pulte Group’s Del Webb 55+ or “first retirement” communities.  Del Webb started in Arizona as large “Sun City” campuses far from downtowns, totally self-sufficient, and built around golf courses.  Bob mentioned that the preferences of his target market are changing.  Housing lots are now smaller, golf courses are fewer, and desirable locations are closer to urban centers and their amenities.  Pulte is also experimenting with placing the Del Webb single-floor product and amenities for those 55+, such as lawn care, social activities and club events, within larger traditional family neighborhoods.  The target market wants the amenities and social functions without being completely separate.  Bob also mentioned that his clientele becomes very “NIMBY” about retirement communities with skilled nursing facilities being located nearby;  “They don’t want to see it.”

David Ammons, Retirement Living Associates, and David Ratchford, Spectrum Consultants, both work with communities for older seniors.    Retirement Living Associates manages the day to day operations of several local communities whereas Spectrum Consultants helps guide decision-making for developers through market research and community planning.  Key points made by the panelists included:

  • The average age for moving into CCRCs is 77.
  • The CCRC label is starting to rebrand a “Life Plan Communities” = My Life, My Plan, My Community, shifting the thinking from a move that’s happening to them, to a move they direct.  Overcoming the negative perception of moving into senior housing is a constant battle, until people actually experience the increased autonomy, activities and services of retirement communities.
  • The upcoming crop of seniors want more independence and fresher approaches to retirement living.  Residents are “members,” not inmates.  Communities focus on hospitality, holistic wellness, concierge services and new experiences.  See One Eighty (link to oneeightytwist.com) for an example forward-thinking marketing.
  • The current product is being built for high- net worth individuals. Services and staff are expensive.  Non-profit developers, such as DHIC, do a good job of building tax subsidized apartments for lower-income seniors.  The big product gap seems to be for the middle-income senior.
  • A very small percentage of seniors are being served by senior housing products on the market. The vast majority will age in place and find their own solutions for any assistance needed.

The program ended with a tour of the Cypress community.

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